Do I get another motor or fix the blown head gaskets? - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-17-2012, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Do I get another motor or fix the blown head gaskets?

Well, My 96 outback wagon, had a total rupture of the lower radiator hose at oh, say, 75 M.P.H. resulting in total loss of coolant ( in oh, say, 2 or 3 seconds) and the car just died. I got it towed home home (AAA plus people, worth every dime.) replaced the radiator and bypass hose and cranked it up.
The old girl started with a mighty belch of coolant out of the radiator, and a HUGE cloud of coolant and liquid from the exhaust.
I'm thinking that both heads are rather blown, with maybe head warpage as well. it cheaper to get the heads milled and new gaskets etc, or replace the motor with a used one from JPL etc.? The car has 194000 on the clock and I want to keep it.
Also, whatever repair course I go, is it easier to replace the tranny at the same time, or is that one a wash.
As usual, any and all help is gratefully accepted, and appreciated!


Mudhen (Richard)

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 09:57 AM
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***you don't mention which engine***
96 manual OBW's are EJ22
96 automatic OBW's are EJ25

if the trans is fine - keep it, no point in replacing it. replace the fluids in it and reseal or replace any trans hoses while the motor is out.

make sure the headgaskets are blown (doesn't sound good). these era vehicles are notoriously hard to bleed and get air in the coolant and overheat after the coolant has been drained. nose up - keep the cap off and adding coolant to get all the air out.

the heads are fine - non-turbo EJ heads don't warp or crack or fail in that way. now - if you abused this thing, overheated it like crazy, drove it alot without coolant...maybe there's more to talk about, but it doesn't sound like that at all. if the story you typed above is true - the heads are fine.

it is certainly cheaper to repair. $200 easily gets you all the gaskets and such you need for the repair.

get an ebay timing belt kit - $150-$200 gets you all the pulleys and timing belt tensioner as well.

use Subaru only headgasket and if it's an EJ25 - use the 610 Subaru gasket (last three digits of the part number). you can even resurface the heads yourself - there's a great write up on how to do it, it's very simple and takes a few minutes. get some glass - cement sandpaper to it (proper grit of course for material removal and the proper finish for a head), and carefully swirl the head down with only the weight of itself on the set up. there's an entire thread i can link you to about it if you're interested.

if it's an EJ25 i wouldn't touch a used engine at all due to the headgasket issues.

the problem is overheating - not the headgaskets, those are just gaskets. overheating stresses the oil and block bearings. so there's a significant number of EJ25's that have lower end rod bearing failures or throw a rod after headgaskets fail. i'm going to make up a number but say %15 of overheated EJ25's have rather early bearing failure after a headgasket repair. i would guess those that fail were usually the ones that were overheated more than the rest.

given the propensity of EJ25's to blow headgaskets i avoid used like the plague, i'd never buy one. they are also pricey - because there's a high demand due to blown blocks and blown heads - people need them. high dollar for a suspect engine - the 96-99 EJ25 is the worst SUbaru engine to buy used. of course you could find a one-owner seller who knows the history....but that's rare.

if yours is an EJ22 - then that's different, it's not hard to get a good used motor for cheap.

H6 OBW VDC, H6 OB Sedan, Tribeca, Lifted XT6
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 11:18 AM
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I tend to (mostly) agree with grossgary. Guess it also depends on your abilities.

With 194K, I'd just go ahead and send heads in for valve job and resurface. Did it burn any oil? If no, then put the reworked heads on and take her another 100K. If yes, I'd tear it rest of way apart and do new bearings and rings - not that much more $$$, but a lot more work. I'm in middle of EJ25 rebuild now...

The FelPro MLS HGs are good (26415PT). The 26170PTs are not. I'll never understand their part number logic, but the HS 26170PT-1 head gasket set has the (good) 26415PT MLS gaskets in it. That's what I have been using - it's a good deal and you get all the other gaskets, valve seals, etc.

If you take the heads in, get the gasket set first and take the valve seals in with the heads...

Good luck,
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 05:20 PM
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You can pick up a Gates timing belt kit w/ tensioner and sprockets for ~125 or so on Amazon, FelPro entire engine gasket kit with headgaskets for about 100 on Amazon. If you only lost coolant for 2-3 seconds and turned it off pretty quick in the driveway I'd say your heads aren't warped. Use a machinists straight-edge and feeler gauges to test for warping or take it to a machine shop if you're worried and don't have the tools.

A friend of mine had the edge and i had feeler gauges so I could do mine at home.

To answer you're actual question... I'd definitely say fix it. You might be able to go to a salvage yard and get an engine for 200 or so but you have no clue what condition it's in. A rebuilt one will run about 800 and up. Cost-wise? I'd do it with a friend in a weekend. Don't even have to pull the engine to do the heads, just a bit of maneuvering and patience.
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